My Story as an American Au Pair
in the Loire Valley
(Memoir, narrative non-fiction)
Release date: October 3, 2012
at Dreamland Press
French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley, is the first of two books based on the author’s diaries.
It’s 1979 and Linda needs to learn a language fast in order to fulfill her dream of becoming a flight attendant. Broke yet determined, she chooses French immersion and contracts to become an au pair for a wealthy family in the Loire Valley. Yielding to poor judgment, she lies on her application and claims to speak basic French, confident she’ll be forgiven once she arrives at the Château de Montclair.
As she struggles to adapt to her challenging new environment with the hard-to-please Madame Dubois and her two incomprehensible children, Linda signs up and attends language classes at the local university. When she encounters Adam, a handsome young student, her life becomes more complicated—much more complicated—adding fuel to her internal battle for independence. Join Linda on her adventure of discovery and romance in an extraordinary part of the world.
GUEST-POST BY THE AUTHOR
Memoirs – A Complex Genre
I have to admit writing French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley was a lot more complex than I initially imagined it would be. My diary offered a great outline, but I realized early on that I would have to change the names of people and places in my story to protect identities. This was especially true with regards to my host au pair family. Acquiring permission from them was out of the question. Totally out of the question. I mean it. Read my book and you’ll understand. Additionally, over thirty years had passed since I spoke with anyone I’d met in France. I no longer had any contact information for them.
With this in mind, I researched common French names that might fit my characters. I tried them out and retained the ones that were a good match. A handful required more effort. Choosing a name for my main love interest, Adam, was difficult because it had to be plausible in both Morocco and France. Songais, the name I chose for the town had to sound French, but it couldn’t mimic any others in the region. My biggest challenge, was finding a name for the family’s chateau in France. I knew this term would be repeated over and over again and it had to be perfect. In my hometown of Kirkland, there is an old apartment building called “Mont Clare” just off of State Street. I never thought about it much until one day, during a walk with the dog, I glanced at the building, and it clicked. That’s it, I thought. I’ll call it the Chateau de Mont Clare. I loved the way this name rolled off my tongue. During a rewrite, my editor convinced me to alter the spelling to Château de Montclair, but the pronunciation remained the same.
Other decisions haunted me during the writing process. From the beginning, I struggled with how much French to incorporate into the story and whether or not to include translations. My editors gave me guidance here. We decided to keep most of the French and bring in translations only when it was absolutely necessary to the story line. Another challenge was finding data from 1979 on the Loire Valley, the Loire River and the town of Tours. It took hundreds of internet searches and numerous travel books to supply this information. The most challenging dilemma of all was how much detail to include in my own love scenes? Wiping the sweat off my brow, I wrote and then rewrote these scenes until I could read them without rolling my eyes and heaving a sigh.
As you can see, writing my memoir was challenging on many levels. It took three years and incalculable hours to complete my story, but I’m pleased with the result. I hope my readers agree. I’ve also published my sequel, French Illusions: From Tours to Paris. This book recounts the rest of my adventure in France.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Linda Kovic-Skow is a best-selling author in travel in France.
Originally from Seattle, she currently winters in Gilbert, Arizona
and spends summers on a boat in the Pacific Northwest Waters
of Washington and British Columbia.
She earned an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting in 1978
from North Seattle Community College
and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration
from Seattle University in 1985.
She has been married for 30 years and has two daughters.
An enthusiastic traveler, Linda also enjoys hiking, boating, gardening and socializing with friends. French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley, was her debut memoir. The sequel, French Illusions: From Tours to Paris, recounts the rest of her adventure in France. I recently reviewed it.
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